A kidney transplant is surgery to give you a healthy kidney from another person. The new kidney may come from someone you know. Or it may come from a stranger or a person who has died.
To do the surgery, the doctor makes a cut in your lower belly. This cut is called an incision. The doctor places the donated kidney in your lower belly. Your own kidneys are not taken out unless they are causing problems. The doctor then connects the blood vessels of the new kidney to your blood vessels. He or she also connects the ureter of the new kidney to your bladder. (A ureter is the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.) Then the doctor closes the incision with stitches or staples. The incision will leave a scar that will fade with time.
You need only one healthy kidney to live. The new kidney can do the work that your own kidneys cannot. It will remove waste from your blood. And it will balance your body's fluids and chemicals. Your new kidney may start to work very soon after surgery. Or it may not start to work well for a few weeks. If your kidney does not start to work right away, you will need to have dialysis until the new kidney is able to take over.
You will probably spend 5 to 10 days in the hospital. The doctor will remove the stitches or staples about 1 to 3 weeks after surgery.
Most people need to take about 4 weeks off from work. But it depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: May 12, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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